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Thread: Questions About Wheelchairs/Components in General, and Specifically for TiLite Aero Z

  1. #11
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    The Netherlands

    I'm not sure what your name is, because for some reason it is not appearing. I'm glad to see that you are getting a lot of good input.

    You are very wise to make sure you understand everything you are getting, and take a strong role in the process. I do not think it is smart to just review the order on the telephone. I think it is reasonable to expect more explanation than you have received and be able to ask questions and discuss options. That is the whole point in having a dealer, and what they receive a 30-40% commission for. We also require that the dealer sends us the filled in PDF order form to approve in advance submitting it. It will save you a lot of time and headaches if there are mistakes. Our dealer was using an older order form and it really screwed things up. Also, as others have mentioned, make sure that you get a CAD drawing that only you sign off on.

    I'm the partner of someone who uses a TiLite ZRA and 2GX wheelchairs and is not SCI. The ZRA is similar to the Aero Z, but is titanium as opposed to aluminium. Because of that, my comments will be more just general in relation to the Aero Z order form (dated July 1, 2014).

    1. AZFS1 TiLite Aero Z is the core aluminium frame. AZFS4 Titanium Frame is an upcharge for a titanium frame instead of aluminium. If you are wanting titanium, it is cheaper to go with a ZRA than pay the upcharge on an Aero Z, assuming your funding source will allow that. What your DME said does not make sense to me. They could be referring to A2P1 SuperLite Edition, which is for titanium and carbon fiber options, as opposed to aluminium options, but the frame would still be aluminium. They could also be referring to the A2RFR1 Reinforced Frame, but again, that would be aluminium and not titanium.

    2. It's really expensive to add these things on later, and perhaps that is why they are being recommended. Push handles handles can be removed. My husband needs push handles, so we got the fold-downs which are really nice, and mostly out of the way if not needed. The anti-tipper clamp/recpetacle and the side guard clamps can also be completely removed. If you want to know what the actual parts are, go to the e-store You will want to look for parts and assemblies for the Aero Z Series 2 (not the Series 1).

    3. Regardless of the type of chair, I think side guards are a personal choice. They certainly help protect clothes, but if you really don't need them, they are not necessary.

    4. 5. We go with satin titanium so it can be buffed out and black for everything when there is a choice. I know that with the Black Editions you can get a Black Lava Footrest, but that edition is not available for the Aero Z. You may also want to check the Designs Unlimited Catalog which shows DU100087 Mixed Color Anodized Parts on page 56, which I "think" means you could have the footrest painted as well.

    6. We have Frog Legs Epic Aluminum Soft Rolls because the Litespeeds were not available when we got the chair. I've heard they are quite similar and people seem to like them. We really like the wider soft rolls for vibration dampening.

    7. We also were rejected for Spinergy LX's. We order the standard TiLite Shadow wheels and ordered the Spinergy LX's online separately and swapped them out. It's nice to have the Shadow's as backups. We really like them, and I do think they help with vibration dampening. My husband really wanted all black, so we ordered the hub in black to match the black spokes. I don't know why Spinergy has an upcharge for that ($80 I think) because the black hub is standard for other colors of spokes.

    8. No experience, but if you search the forum you will see some posts. I know that ResonantEcho has them, and I think he likes them.

    9. No experience. If you are getting a solid seat back like the J3, you might want to consider the A2SB19 4" Deep Backrest Rigidizer Bar. My husband has and ADI carbon fiber seat back and base, and the 4" is needed to maintain his seat depth and also to be able to fold down the back flat.

    10. I go with what others have said about this topic. It is way more than just an issue of comfort.

    11. No experience. My huband uses D's Locks (hub locks) on both chairs with Spinergy LX's.

    12. We have solid inserts on one chair and they are horribly heavy and also make for a bumpy ride. We have Schwalbe Marathon Plus Evolution on the other, and prefer them. They don't leave skid marks and have good puncture protection, but as mentioned by someone, they are also a bit heavy, but still not as bad as solids by any means. I would do the Marathons instead of solids.

    13. No experience.

    14. Many people use the Backrest Rigidizer Bar if push handles are mostly not needed, but then you may want to consider A2SB13 Custom Height Backrest Rigidizer Bar to place it higher up on the back frame.

    15. For anything that you are paying out-of-pocket for, consider ordering the standard (STD) and no charge options (NCO) from your dealer and placing a second order online. We did that with almost everything on the chair and saved a lot of money, and have backups for many parts. For things like the J3 back, that are not available through TiLite, you can still order the A2BUP2 Velcro Adjustable back upholstery, and just note on the order form that you do not want it installed.
    Last edited by elarson; 08-10-2014 at 07:36 AM. Reason: added to #15
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  2. #12
    I have a TiLite Aero Z but can't answer most of your issues. However I urge you to get a copy of the order that your dealer is submitting to TiLite, as well as the CAD drawing they routinely do. Then carefully go over them several times and question/change any errors. I learned this the hard way. One of my many chairs came in with push handles that I had specifically told the dealer I didn't want. I refused the chair and waited about 3 more weeks for another chair. Now, in my dotage, I ordered a chair WITH push handles as my family members are getting old too and I was wanting to help those who pull me up stairs to visit. Never again. When putting on clothing things get caught on the handles all the time and lots of shoulder pain to get things unstuck.

    Also, a paralyzed dealer suggested I get my TiLite depth a bit longer as 'they make them kinda short'. I did add 2 inches to seat rail depth (not seat material) and this has worked out fine. More room to grasp front seat rail for transfers, weight shifts, and hanging a pouch for cell phone.

  3. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Whately, MA United States
    Blog Entries
    Don't agree to anything with any DME, and get everything in writing.
    Don - Grad Student Emeritus
    T3 ASIA A 26 years post injury

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    1. Do you any of you have the AERO Z? If so, overall, do you enjoy it? If you'd like to list pros and cons, that would be great. On the order form, there are two types listed. One is more expensive, and then the second specifies that it is Titanium, and it's less expensive. I don't know what the first is made out of, but according to the report from the DME, that more expensive version is the one I'm getting. Does anyone know what that is?
    I love my AeroZ. It's well built, sturdy, and adjustable within limits. IMO Tilite makes one of the best manual chairs in the world. The quality of craftsmanship, options choices, and custom configuration ("Designs Unlimited") possibilities are superb. Many, many pros. Only three cons I can think of: some stock fasteners corrode over time, caster axles could be designed better (i.e., easier to service), and obtaining parts/accessories after the fact is pricey. But I think all chairs have these same cons.

    That said, the best made chair in the world will not serve you well if it isn't sized correctly. Most DMEs do NOT know how to size chairs correctly. Visit a seating clinic.

    Tilite earned their reputation making titanium framed wheelchairs. To expand their market, they began producing virtually the same designs with aluminum alloy frames because aluminum is less expensive (and much easier to fabricate) than titanium. All their Aero Brand chairs have aluminum frames (a few have titanium frame upgrades because of government/Medicare pricing rules - long, tedious story). The titanium versus aluminum-alloy discussion is a major topic in and of itself. Apples to apples, a titanium chair is slightly lighter than an aluminum chair for a whole lot more cost. Titanium chairs do last indefinitely, while aluminum chairs do fail/fatigue eventually. My AeroZ is a tweak-it chair. I hope to move up to a TR in another year - I've tweaked my AeroZ quite extensively, trying different configurations so I know what will work in a non-adjustable chair (i.e. TR).

    Many manufacturers heavily emphasize chair weight. IMO really light chairs (<23#) are necessary only for people who lift their chairs with their shoulders. I don't, so weight is not a major issue for me. To obtain and keep a chair really lightweight means two things: 1) pay huge bucks for carbon fiber accessories that save a few ounces, and 2) be prepared to regularly strip your chair virtually bare (e.g., remove cushion, backrest, rear wheels, backpacks, bags, tools, sideguards, etc.) to obtain your light weight.

    My ultralight AeroZ1 with aluminum seat pan, aluminum side guards, MagicWheels, and various bags stuffed with things I need (including flat-tire repair supplies) weighs over 60#. CF accessories are not worth the bucks for the few ounces they'd save. And my hand/arm tremors make disassembling my chair a royal PIA.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    2. Regarding add-ons such as handles (which I 100% do not want, but they keep trying to include them anyway, ugh), anti-tippers, and side guards, are they completely removable? Meaning, the part(s) of the chair that hold those things in place (I don't know the terms for those, sorry), can you remove those as well and have it look as if they were never on the chair in the first place?

    I ask this because while I don't necessarily want any of those things, this chair is going to be drastically different than my current chair. The wheels are going to be moved almost six inches forward, for instance, and I wonder if the anti-tippers would be helpful until I get used to the changes. But, after that, I want no sign of them. If it comes down to it, I will have to choose aesthetics over a non-cracked skull, haha.
    IMO get the basic extras. They'll be cheaper when you get them with your chair. They can be removed completely. They will fit properly should you want to use them (if you buy them later, you may have to jump through hoops to get the right ones). I have the integral push handles, which I replaced with straight aluminum tubing from the hardware store to hold my grocery bags handles. Today I put the push handles back on because I may need to be pushed tomorrow because of a medical procedure I'm having.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    3. Those of you who have used this particular chair, are the side guards necessary? In person, Do you think it looks better with or without them?
    I love having side guards - I'm a bit pudgy so they allow me to have a narrower chair and still keep my hips from rubbing the tires.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    4. Have any TiLite users gotten their chain in the "Black Lava" (for other brands, it's basically a matte black) color? Does it look good in person?
    not applicable

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    5. If you have your chair in any color other than silver, does it drive you crazy if you weren't able to have the bars of the footrest painted in that same color, as it seems is the case with TiLite? Or, am I wrong, and you can in fact have it painted as well?
    My chair is blue, and I'm fine with the stock footrest colors. You can always paint them yourself if it bothers you.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    6. I'm going for a basically all black look, and to get all black front wheels, I will have to upgrade to the 4?
    x1.5? LITESPEED BILLET ALUMINUM WHEEL W/SOFT ROLL TIRE. Anyone have those, and if so, thoughts?
    The older Tilite casters suck - they're heavy, so they flutter easily at relatively low speeds. I replaced mine with FrogsLegs Aluminum Hub Soft Rolls (FLAHSR). Since then Tilite introduced their LiteSpeed design about which I know very little. FrogLegs come in many hub and tire colors including black. I do know the vast majority of wheelchair casters on the market use 608 bearings, which are ubiquitous (same as roller skates and skateboards). Tilite's LiteSpeed casters use R6 bearings, which are readily available but not ubiquitous like 608s.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    7. This is one I'm expecting to be rejected by my insurance, but for rear wheels, I really would like the SPINERGY LX. Do any of you have either of them, and if so, do you enjoy them? Were they worth the extra money?

    Also, and particularly if you have a black chair, does that fact that the hub is silver bother you at all? Or, are you able to get the hub colored the same as the spokes? I'm thinking that even if the hub has to be silver, it may look kind of nice against the black.
    I love my MagicWheels. I have no experience with fancy spoke wheels. Before MWs, I used Spinergy wire wheels.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    8. I also enjoy the TWIN-STAR EXCHANGE wheels (though I am leaning toward the LX's), and those would fit the all-black motif pretty well, so, do any of you have those? Do you enjoy them? Were they worth the extra money?

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    9. Given that I don't need much support, they want to put a J3 BACKREST on it. Are you comfortable with yours? Does it look presentable on the chair, from all angles?
    I like my Jay3. It's the Lower Thoracic 16x9.5" with quick release hardware, and it's relatively heavy (>3#). For me a solid back works much better than fabric back upholstery. I have good trunk control. That said, choosing an appropriate backrest can be exceptionally subjective. Again I recommend a seating clinic.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    10. Along with the support statement, the MPT/APT suggested that my cushion is more of an issue of comfort, and suggested the VARILITE ZOID refillable cushion. Does it work well for you?
    Cushion selection can be critical. I have sensation and love my Comfort Company Adjuster. I can sit comfortably for many hours.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    11. SCISSOR LOCKS, yay or nay? Keep in mind I have no issues with my hands/arms.
    My first choice is hub locks (D's Locks or SureLocks). My distant second choice is composite scissor locks. I do not like aluminum scissor locks.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    12. TIRES. These I know next to nothing about. The ones on the chair I tried out were thin and had very little tread, and I was told they were solid. Given the all black look I'm going for, I would like these to be black as well. I'm told I'm getting 24'' wheels. I don't see an option for colors on the order form, so the ones that come in black (and are solid and come in 24'' with minimal tread) are the HERRINGBONE TREAD. How are they? Do you know of others? While it probably doesn't need saying, I plan on getting black pushrims as well.
    My chair came with solid tires. They skidded horribly, and their rough sidewalls tore up my hands. Basd on CCC reviews, I switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus Evolutions (MPE), and have been very happy. They're great all-season, most-terrain tires. Most of my use is outside.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    13. I don't know that this will matter much, but I want the solid panel foot rest. Is that the FLAT ABS COVER? Any cons to it?
    NA (I have the flip-back footrest.)

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    14. In lieu of the handles, as I mentioned earlier, I would like the bar that goes across the back of the chair. Is that called the Rigidizer Bar? Have any of you had any problems when being helped up a step with this?
    Rigidizer bar, Towel Bar . . depending on the manufacturer. Personally I'd be very leery of lifting an occupied chair by this bar or the push handles on a fold down backrest. On a welded backrest it would be okay. I have no personal experience though.

    Quote Originally Posted by User Name View Post
    15. Any random bits of info you'd like to share, or wish you had known going into your last ordering process? . . .
    I prefer a solid seat pan - very stable. I am good with tools (and have many) so my mods to my AeroZ are extensive and, in some cases, uncommon: I extended the trails of my forks to eliminate flutter. I fashioned and installed wood wedges beneath my solid aluminum seat pan (which I bent accordingly) to provide ergo seating and raise my FSH. I adapted my MagicWheels to use hub locks. Mentioned earlier, I have straight aluminum posts to swap with my push handles. . . .

    Thanks for your questions. Lots of fantastic experiences reside here on CCC.
    Last edited by chasmengr; 08-10-2014 at 07:07 PM.
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."

  5. #15
    Also, if you want a quality chair with serious configurability far beyond anything else on the market, consider Or if you have special needs beyond what anyone else can do, consider Both make high quality chairs.
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by elarson View Post
    . . . You are very wise to make sure you understand everything you are getting, and take a strong role in the process. I do not think it is smart to just review the order on the telephone. I think it is reasonable to expect more explanation than you have received and be able to ask questions and discuss options. That is the whole point in having a dealer, and what they receive a 30-40% commission for. We also require that the dealer sends us the filled in PDF order form to approve in advance submitting it. It will save you a lot of time and headaches if there are mistakes. . . .
    Quote Originally Posted by Donno View Post
    Don't agree to anything {orally} with any DME, and get everything in writing.
    Huge DITTO !!! CCC is full of horror stories about DMEs failures. Protect yourself. Don't get stuck for five+ years with a chair configuration you don't want - it happens far too often.

    Also be prepared to decline acceptance of a misconfigured chair once it arrives. After you sign for it, good luck getting anything changed. (If you follow the other advice, your chair should arrive configured like you ordered - especially a Tilite chair.)
    Last edited by chasmengr; 08-10-2014 at 07:25 PM.
    TiLite TR3
    Dual-Axle TR3 with RioMobility DragonFly
    I am a person with mild/moderate hexaparesis (impaired movement in 4 limbs, head, & torso) caused by RRMS w/TM C7&T7 incomplete.

    "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but what I don't think you realize is that what you heard is not what I meant."

  7. #17
    Suspended Andy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Chicago IL
    Quote Originally Posted by ~Lin View Post
    tell them to go fuck themselves literally or figuratively.
    From what you wrote about this DME...very sage advice.

    I'll add that at T11'ish...why bother with the Jay3 back anyway? More doodads and bracketry, weight, and PITA I think. The 'tension adjustable by straps' back from TiLite is light, slim, adjustable however you want it, and using one for the past 10 or so years as a T6, seems pretty good to me. I do have rods from T2 to T12 though, so not sure how that might work with someone that still has a spine. I have 0 trunk control, and don't find myself falling over with this back still.

  8. #18
    I'm about to reply to each of you individually -- because I'm a gentleman, by dammit -- but I wanted to post this first. Thank you very much to everyone who has posted. I'm getting a lot of great information that I have no doubt prove invaluable.

    I was feeling a bit sketchy about this process before, and am even more so now. I have a feeling I know what all of you will say, but I'll post how things have gone up until this point and, if you want to, of course, you can let me know if it matches up with some of your horror stories.

    On June 24th (if memory serves me correct), I had an appointment at a hospital's Center for Assistive Technologies lab (I don't want to badmouth them publicly by name until I see how this plays out). After meeting with MPT/APT (who just so happens to be the Director of the program, apparently) and giving her my history and information, she informed me that they had a particular DME present that day, and that if I had no allegiances with any particular dealers, I could go through them and look at some things.

    We went to another room where they had 4 or 5 chairs (TiLite, Quickie, etc). The MPT pointed out that she thought the Aero Z would suit me well. It was also the one I liked the looks of the most, so I tried it out. Compared to my current chair, it was a dream come true. That being said, I have only ever sat in 3 chairs, so there's that. Anyway, I said that I liked it, and we began discussing some of the components I would need/might like, such as the cushion I was currently sitting on (Zoid), the brakes, etc.

    As we were leaving, she asked the DME if he could have me in the chair by September. Of course he said yes, but I knew that was bullshit. I smiled and went along with it, though. He said he'd be in contact to schedule a home visit. To my surprise, said home visit took place relatively shortly thereafter, on July 9th. He came, made sure the chair would fit in the house (even though we knew it would); and this is where I started to worry.

    When recapping what we had gone over during the previous appointment, he had a couple of things written down incorrectly. Then, when he said it was time to take measurements, he only took maybe 4 or 5. When he was leaving, he said he'd be in touch in about two weeks; he'd call and we'd go over the order form.

    After 3 weeks or so went by, I decided to email the MPT. During that time, I had been researching things online. It dawned on me that they were demoing a chair with "all the bells and whistles" -- upgrades that insurances probably wouldn't approve. I emailed the MPT and told her my concerns, that I wasn't comfortable with ordering a chair that was different from the one I tried, components and all. She emailed me back and told me to trust them.

    We wrote back forth 4 or 5 times (I can copy and paste the emails if anyone is curious), and I kept getting that response. I would ask many questions and get no answers. I received a copy of the report they wrote. Things were different. I brought that to their attention, along with my questions (again). She answered one or two of those questions, then again told me to trust them.

    She just kept telling me to trust them, and that if I don't like the chair I don't have to accept it. She didn't seem to understand that I was trying to get these concerns addressed before ordering, as not to waste anyone's time and effort. Or, just didn't care.

    I emailed the DME with the same concern -- that I wasn't comfortable ordering a chair that differed from the one I tried. As you can see, I write very detailed messages, haha. I asked many questions. What I got in return was a list of things that are considered upgrades and would probably have some out of pocket costs, but no answers to my questions.

    Eventually, the DME's assistant called me, leaving a message that she had received my emails from the MPT (she must have forwarded them, but which ones I do know not) and that she wanted to go over the report and order form with me. I called her back 10 minutes later, around 11:30'ish AM. No answer. No call back that day. No call back the next morning, so I call. Leave a message. All-in-all, I called and left two messages a day last week and never got a call back.

    So, here we are.

  9. #19
    Oh, here is something that at face value seems very small, but is actually a pretty good representation of how this has gone so far.

    During our conversation, the MPT started talking about how much she hates push handles. She said she doesn't like how they look, she thinks it invites people to come and push you without asking, etc. Mind you she brought this up before I even gave my opinion. I agree with her, though, and she was very happy about that. She said, "So no push handles, yes!" and laughed.

    Fast forward to me receiving the report, and push hands are listed on it. When I wrote her to say (again) that I was concerned about things being changed and not receiving the chair I actually demo'ed, she skipped over the big picture and focused on just the push handles. But, instead of saying it was a mistake, which is what I was expecting, she told me that push handles might be helpful, and that if I don't want to use them, I can just turn them down.

    So, she somehow went from being very against them to thinking I should have them, even though I specifically reiterated that I don't want them, and then tried to talk me into it.

    And I know I don't have to have push handles; the point being that they completely changed something without even asking.

    Edit: I would also like to add that while I don't think I am, I am totally open to the idea that I could be wrong about all of this. I've never really done this, so I could be understanding something incorrectly. Or, it could just be a misunderstanding, or even just a very small mistake that is easily fixable.

    Or, I was thinking that maybe it's some type of method they use to kind of pull the wool over my insurance company's eyes. I'm all for that, haha.

    But, if it is either of those things, just tell me. I'm clearly engaged and can see that something is going on, so just explain it to me and I'll leave you the hell alone, haha.
    Last edited by User Name; 08-10-2014 at 09:35 PM.

  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by randomryan007 View Post
    To your questions

    1. I don't have and aero z.. I have an Icon A1
    2. Yes anti tippers are removable. Yes some of the side guards are remove able. Handles are remove able. Fold down are great.
    3. Yes side guards are helpful. They help keep your clothes clean.
    4. Yes matte black looks good
    5. No foot rest color doesn't matter to me
    6. Soft fools are awesome
    7. Spinergy spot hVe a better chance of getting approved. I like the silver hub.
    8. No I have never tried twin star
    9. I have a varilite Icon back and love it
    10. Varilite zooid is a great cushion. Stimulate is also a great cushion.
    11. I like scissor locks. But d's locks are better
    12. Shawlbe marathons are great tires
    13. Yes it's a flat abs cover. I use skateboard grip tape. it don't hurt the chair for people to help with the rid giddier bar.
    Thanks for your input, Mr. Bond. I really do appreciate it.

    I had never seen or heard of the Zoid before, and when they showed me how it works, I was very impressed. It's awesome they were able to invent something like that.

    I keep hearing about these Marathon tires. They aren't available on the TiLite order form, but I'll have to look into them. Thanks again.

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